In this information age, there are a million voices to be heard, but is anybody really listening? The amount of traffic our minds get really makes it difficult to slow down and pay attention to any information, and then what information should I listen too? I’ve been reviewing just such information touching on 26 habits most people think are healthy based on popular opinion. The first one focused on food and drink the second on hygiene and health, and this last section focuses on what type of workouts to do.
21. Only doing cardiovascular exercise is the best program to stay fit. While cardiovascular exercise is important, a balanced workout of strengthening to build lean muscle tissue, bone density and strength along with flexibility exercises and balance training comprise the best formula for fitness. There are many combinations within a balanced workout, it is not a one size fits all process. Specific needs for a sport, a job or limitations from injury, disease process or surgery will determine some of what you focus on. Just remember, anything we do repetitively without change wears us out physically and mentally. Changing up a workout, like any job process or habit is good for the mind, body and the soul!
22. Doing a million crunches will give me abs of steal. Contrary to what the media says, there is no miracle ab machine or exercise that will flatten your abs, or give you a washboard stomach. Doing adequate cardiovascular exercise and watching your diet will do more for your abs than any strengthening exercise. Belly fat accumulates and without getting rid of it; your washboard abs will never show as they are insulated by layers of fat on the outside. Getting rid of white food everything; eating more fiber and adding more water into your diet will make you feel better and look leaner around the middle. Then add cardio to burn body fat and you’ll see better results than the midnight infomercial machines!
23. Breathing deeply through the chest…our bodies were built with a diaphragm muscle that lays underneath the ribs and lungs that helps pull in and push out airflow. Diaphragmatic breath fully inflating all the lobes of your lungs is how our bodies were made to breath; rather than using accessory muscles in the shoulders or chest to assist. If you have a disease process such as COPD, upper body breathing may be evident. If you’re not sure if you breath correctly; just lay on your back and feel the abdomen rise and fall, maybe placing your hands lightly on it. If your chest only is lifting, then you are not breathing as deeply as you should. Practice filling your lungs with air expanding your rib cage and stretching the intercostal muscles that assist the ribcage. The diaphragm will assist with this breath.
24. Static stretching pre-work. There are different schools of thought on when to stretch and how to stretch. Athletes can stretch dynamically or in a moving way to prepare their bodies for activity, warming up the muscles, ligaments and tendons with lunges or knee raises to stretch the body. Some of you may stretch with yoga, which is a static or still hold in a specific position to stretch the body. It really depends on the activity you are going to engage in to determine what type of stretch and when you will perform it is best. Flexibility is one of the 4 elements needed in a balanced workout, so whatever you do, don’t skip the stretching! It keeps or improves our level of function as our joints can move more freely like the good Lord intended! It can help decrease soreness post a workout by stretching out the tissues, but adequate hydration, a foundation of muscle endurance and proper eating also contribute to how sore you are as well. When you train your body will physiologically be able to clear waste products better and change the lactic acid threshold that we feel as soreness.
25. Using machines for a workout – while machines are a great place to start a workout; changing it up once you learn technique is important as well. Machines stabilize the body for beginners, and allow them to work on the exercise, without having to focus on other body parts or stabilization. Once the technique of breathing and speed is learned, as well as a foundation of muscle strength, the stabilization of pads and seats can be decreased, if technique follows in progression. Adding free weights sitting on a ball will increase your core work as you cannot stabilize your body on a pad, your abs will need to contract to hold your body upright. Standing on one foot with free weights can also incorporate balance and strengthening together in an multi-joint exercise. Working more than one dimension or body part at a time as you progress from machines to free weights, bars, bands or gravity and body weight exercises gives you more bang for your buck. These exercises are more technique intensive and require more body awareness and control than machines do, so they will work you harder overall. And thus burn more calories in general. Machines also don’t adjust for every body size and can limit range of motion to prevent injury for beginners, which at first is the point!
26. Hitting the gym daily is best! While a daily routine is nice, we all still need rest to recover from a workout. You may want to say, I’ll be active every day, but limit the gym to 5 days a week tops, and fill in with other activities like hiking, walking, snowshoeing or softball. Activities that engage your mind and allow you to interact socially. This helps keep the fun in your fitness activity and it changes up the scenery from the gym to the great outdoors. You’ll gain clarity outdoors and you can put your gym fitness into physical functionality! Really feeling how the workouts improve normal activities and the quality of your life by making your fun activities easier to do providing more enjoyment in the process!